Armando Garcia–Dàvila was named Healdburg’s Literary Laureate for the year 2002–2003 adding to his distinction as Poet Laureate of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Sonoma County. A landscape contractor by profession, Armando started writing in 1990 – an impassioned letter to a dear friend who was killed in VietNam. The Santa Rosa Press Democrat ran the letter as an OpEd piece entitled “Vow to a Fallen Comrade.” When the war ended, he continued writing. A poem, “No Time: Lamentations of a Contractor,” was recorded by Latino USA radio, and broadcast on more than 200 stations nationwide in 1995. Catholic and Protestant ministers asked permission to use it for their Sunday sermons.
Encouraged, he spent the next few years writing short stories about his childhood when he and his twin were mischievous students in a Catholic grammar school in San Diego –– not “bad kids,” Armando says, but “born clowns [who] loved making our classmates laugh.” Two of the stories, “First Communion” and “The Pendulum,” were published by Thumbprint Press in Marin County, California in its Bust Out Stories magazine. That was 1998. “First Communion,” and “If I Could” (a poem) were awarded first–place ribbons at the Marin County Fair the same year.
At that time Armando saw short stories as his genre, but when his marriage of 23 years fell apart and he found himself living alone for the first time in his life (he came from a family of nine) he found that everything he wrote fell onto the page in verses and stanzas. A friend told him he was writing poetry! “How could that be? “ Armando said. “I’ve never liked poetry. I don’t understand it.“ But there it was, complete with metaphor, symbolism, and imagery.
Referring to himself as a “blue collar poet” Garcia–Dàvila’s literary life today consists of readings at cafés, bookstores, libraries, and radio stations along with presentations at elementary, middle, and high schools. Garcia–Dàvila’s short stories and poems are a monthly feature in La Voz bilingual newspaper and can be found at libraries and various newsstands in 12 Northern California counties. In addition to organizing and leading “poetry slams,” Garcia–Dàvila gives seminars at colleges and universities. As a featured presenter for the Arts and Lecture Series at Santa Rosa Junior College, he has demonstrated to ESL students of varying nationalities the art and craft of “building“ a poem. He was also invited to be a feature presenter for the Dia de Los Muertos celebration at the Petaluma campus of SRJC. Garcia–Dàvila is enormously effective with all his audiences, he especially enjoys seeing youngsters suddenly wake up to the power and satisfaction that comes with letting buried thoughts see the light of day in the form of poetry and prose. He has had much the same experience in his volunteer work with inmates of San Quentin State Penitentiary in a program designed to assist them in their rehabilitation.
Armando is currently at work on short stories and reminiscences of his Catholic grammar school days with twin brother Fernando. He has also had much success as “The Gourmet Poet,” marrying his writing and cooking skills. Dr. David Anderson and his wife Cathy said of their Gourmet Poet experience: “It was a beautiful presentation, a delicious dinner, and a night of inspired and romantic poetry.“ Click here for more information about the Gourmet Poet.